Tag Archives | George Orwell
By Richard Mynick for the World Socialist Web Site:
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Since first appearing in the popular lexicon, the term “Orwellian” has conjured up a vision of the prototypical “totalitarian state”: a one-party dictatorship that swarmed with secret police, spied on its own people, quashed dissent, made arbitrary arrests, tortured prisoners, waged perpetual war, rewrote history for mere expedience, impoverished its own working population, and rooted its political discourse in doublethink—a thought system defined as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
Many Americans would easily recognize this description of “Oceania,” the futuristic dystopia immortalized by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, one of the most influential English-language novels of the mid-twentieth century.
Whether many Americans recognize that this description applies to their own society as well is another matter. But since the theft of the 2000 election—a period marked by such events as the 9/11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq based on fictitious “WMD” (weapons of mass destruction), the torture scandals, and the 2008 financial crash—it’s a point that increasing numbers of Americans seem to be grasping.
Slate just conducted an interesting experiment in Orwellian-style rewriting of history. Readers were asked to share their their recollections of recent historical events, many of which never actually happened. That didn’t matter though; a large percentage recalled, for instance, how angry they were when Obama infamously shook hands with Ahmadinejad (which he didn’t). The lesson being, if you ask someone to remember something, they will:
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In the first three days the experiment was posted, 5,279 subjects participated. All of the true incidents outscored the false ones. But the fake images were effective. Through random distribution, each fabricated scene was viewed by a subsample of more than 1,000 people. For Obama meeting Ahmadinejad, the number who remembered seeing it was 26 percent. For the Hillary Clinton ad, the number was 36 percent. For the Edwards-Cheney confrontation, it was 42 percent, just seven points shy of the percentage who remembered seeing the DeLay/Schiavo episode.
At a warehouse in New Jersey, 6,000 used copy machines sit ready to be sold. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports almost every one of them holds a secret. Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive — like the one on your personal computer — storing an image of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine.
Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
For a country that prides itself on its freedoms, we’ve systematically begun to dismantle them in favor of a perceived sense of safety. We have the largest, most powerful military in the world. Our surveillance systems and police technologies are state of the art. We have more law enforcement agencies than acronyms available.
Yet, for all the measures in place to make us feel safe, we live our lives in fear of the next thwarted terrorist attack. To live and believe that we are the most powerful country in the world and simultaneously feel so vulnerable is a mental gymnastics performance that would make Orwell blush.
With all of the shouting in the public square about the constitution and the paranoia some Americans fear over “big government,” how can our elected leaders even begin to fathom, let alone propose and support such draconian and downright dictatorial powers?… Read the rest
In the wake of Arizona’s new racial-profiling reign-of-police-terror law, Senate Democrats countered by unveiling their own Orwellian immigration reform “solution”: biometric ID cards for all American workers. Yep, that’s going to go over really well. The Hill reports:
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A plan by Senate Democratic leaders to reform the nation’s immigration laws ran into strong opposition from civil liberties defenders before lawmakers even unveiled it Thursday.
Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.
The national ID program would be titled the Believe System, an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment.
The American Civil Liberties Union, a civil liberties defender often aligned with the Democratic Party, wasted no time in blasting the plan.
“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives.
Chris M. at Black Sun Gazette
I think in the year 2000 we actually entered through the looking glass. It’s almost absurd — left is right, up is down, fight terrorism by going shopping and Afghans are “Enduring Freedom” is an incredible Orwellian mind fuck. A sizable minority live in Fox News World and swallow up conservative dribble, because Bush “kept us safe for eight years” except for the day between 9-10 and 9-12 (snap).
Another sizable liberal minority live in Futurama and believe all would have been fine had Al Gore been elected (no terrorism, no war, no hurricanes, no government corruption) unlike the rest of American history. The fact that the two men were both from old political families that served the interests of the elite didn’t phase most people. One was the son and great grandson of presidents; the other a vice president and son of a powerful senator.… Read the rest